tv [untitled] January 6, 2013 8:30am-9:00am PST
curious today what your thoughts are in terms of dialogue about this project. because we have all been at this a long time. i think we have made considerable progress. there is still discussion to be made about give-back, but personally, and from what i have learned from the project sponsor, i think there is an inent and willingness to have a dialogue to see this through. you know, there are some questions about the process. about why here here today? is this because of the suit? is it because of the judge? i will leave that to you to opine about. that is my testimony today. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> good afternoon president fong and commissioners. my name is dawn and i'm with the middle polk neighborhood association. i come here today with a
question that i need to share with you. it's a question that has been posed to me day after day after day in the past several weeks. and that is what process is being followed in this case? and i can't answer that question to the members of our association and the leaders of other associations that are asking me. is this a new process? is this a new way of doing things? will other developers be given this shorter process? because you know we just heard this case here in june. so we're back kind of quick on that. i would like to be able to really fully be able to answer that question when i am asked that. and i cannot do that now. so some help on that would be very much appreciated. we also would appreciate some help as far as the timeframe is going on this. we're here in front of you just a couple of weeks before
christmas and then a couple of weeks after christmas you want us to be back. there is all of this family stuff and christmas stuff that we need to do in the middle of it. why is it such a rush? can we not take a little bit more time in order to get the necessary community involvement that we need to have a successful case here? can we have some more time to please do that in a less rushed fashion? thank you. [ reading speakers' names ] >> thank you, members of the commission. my name is gordan egan and i am an attorney who represent the owners of building. last monday night, the developer had a pre-op meeting and he sent out approximately 140 invitations to that meeting to people in the neighborhood. and it was publicized in some
other ways. i know some community members publicized it further. at that meeting approximately 25 people attended. they were generally supportive of the building. i confess i was only there towards the end, but from my discussion with the architect and some others who were, there there wasn't a lot of dissension, or questions about the design you saw. most of the members of community who came to that meeting seemed fairly favorable towards that design. you could ask the architect if i am putting that out wrong, or maybe some community members. but in the time i was there and the people that i spoke to afterwards, the community is fairly -- i'm not going to say overwhelmingly overjoyed with the building because it's a little different than what is there now .
this will be one of the newer buildings in that entire neighborhood. it's on a corner. it's going to look a little different, yeah. but the ark architect working with the community has done a wonderful job doing that. we have spent the last year in discussions with the condo conversion and the developer, on resolving many issues that we have. we have spent the last six months in discussion with the community, discussing the design of the building. there are advocates for senior housing and we have met with them on several occasions. we have met with several housing developers. we had additional meetings with housing developers. even though we're in contract with pacific polk, pacific polk has agreed to allow us to talk to senior housing developers about the property. he didn't have to do that. he did. so we are talking to
senior housing developers with his permission. we don't believe that is going to work because as we presented to you six months ago when you approved the eir, it does not appear to us or and i don't mean to put words in their mouths, but to the planning department in their recommendation on the eir, it does not appear to the planning department that it makes any economic sense or is feasible to reuse the structure there as any kind of residential housing. we tried to do it in 2004. we first spoke to senior housing developers in 2010. we spoke to senior housing developers again. and we are now talking to them again, but we don't see that as feasible. we're runing that course out as we can. the developer has done an unbelievable job of meeting with the community over the last six months. we have met with the community. i speak with members of
community on a somewhat regular basis to talk and see if the developer is continuing to move forward. the reports that i get are that he is. we have a system in place now with regard to the building that if something occurs with regard to the building, members of community have the phone number and email of our property manager, and can report things directly to him. they do so. i think the members of the community will agree that they get results. it's not perfect. it doesn't work 100% of the time. somebody took our anti-sit barriers and painted them as candy canes last night. it's kind of a little christmas cheer, but that is what we're putting up. but we're dealing with it. we have that report and we're dealing with it. you know, i want to point one thing out. the developers working on community benefit, the developer has -- since this project was presented to you in
june, the developer has dropped 6,000-square-feet out of the building. i don't have the thing up there. he not only moved stuff around. he took out 6,000 feet. we're not just moving stuff around the chess board. we're throwing stuff off the table. it's not the same project it was. it's 6,000-square-feet less. he put all the stuff undergrounds. so in closing i would like to say that we're working hard towards having a resolution with the community. thank you. >> thank you. if you are ready? the first time you were up you were giving us a message? >> i was just giving you rowena's letter because you called her and she had left and that is her message. >> okay. >> linda chapman. well, i'm really supposed to hear what i
just heard. because you know, i'm in regular communication with the senior housing developers, the only ones that i know have been involved with this. although i know that brad believes that glide would also be very interested and maybe another. i think that either brad paul or i or don faulk would know if they were discussing this with senior housing developers. they met with tndc project managers, doing a preliminary analysis that went to the mayor's office of housing. they said they were very interested in it. now can this site be available? you had turned down the conditional use. so we decided with don that the logical thing would be to get in touch with the methodist church and find out. the result was that this lawyer told the methodist that they
shouldn't get involved with it and each and every methodist i talk to, they are all interested in senior housing, but the lawyer said no. so what was the result? tndc was subpoenaeded and threatened with litigation and they had a lot of expense. i think you have heard about that. so they want to come forward and do the full analysis, which might be thousands of hours and the offer that they were told would be welcomed after the judge ordered them to talk. all right? now the methodist administrator said we would love to do that and the attorney says my client will not sell to anyone unless they pay off john's expenses. nobody else can buy the site.
tndc nevertheless persifted persisted and i do believe this lawyer would be capable of doing something in that direction. they are the owners of the property still. all right? or the judge. brad is following up as i mentioned. there has been a lot of talk about all of this involvement with the community. i haven't seen it very much. there are interesting and lively meetings. this discussion did not occur there. it was mentioned negotiations were going on and others could join in the negotiating group, but others didn't want to. rowena has gone and i talked to the architect and nobody is participating in that. they are not interested in negotiating that kind of project. i went to the pre-op meeting, you know? >> is there any additional
public comment on this item? seeing none, the public comment portion is closed. opening up to commissioners. commissioner antonini? >> thank you. i guess the first issue which was raised on a number of occasions is why this is before us? maybe mr. sanchez could tell us the reason why this new project is before us. >> thank you. so first, this is just an informational item. this is not an action item and there is not a project before you to approve or disprove, but the planning code states no application proposing an amendment, conditional use or variance, the same or substantially the same as that which was disapproved shall be resnit smieed or reconsidered by the planning commission or zoning administrator within a period of one year of effective action upon the earlier application this. is where the one-year bar has been raised and the planning code says you cannot submit the same or substantially the same project.
it's a planning code provision and i reviewed the plans submitted and found it's not substantially the same, so it can come before you within the year. it's fully within your discretion when you have the hearing on that item and i don't know when that date would be. you would have a full public hearing with notification and you would have full discretion as you do for any other action that you take this. is no different than any other action you would be able too take on a project to approve, disapprove or approve with conditions. >> thank you very much. i think this is a very good project as it moves forward. i understand some of the concerns. the first issue that has been raised a couple of times is the benefits and i think it does give a lot back to the community. and i don't think it's proper to differentiate between types of people and reward one particular project over another. i think just because it's a
market-rate project doesn't mean it's not beneficial for a neighborhood. we heard some of the things given back. the community room, the car-share spaces, the three community spaces and the trees that were mentioned that are planned to be planted along both larkin and clay street with maintenance included. and the fact that the project sponsor has worked with the neighbors to try to decrease the size. one of the things that we called for and i would encourage him to continue to work with neighbors with particular reference to the adjacent building on clay and the property line windows. although we know these are not protected, if there is a way that they can be worked out to allow light into as many as these as possible, that would be great. although a lot has been done already. and then on some other issues
regarding the redesign -- not the redesign, but the new project more properly state. one of the things mentioned in the complaints by the neighborhood and others is that typical finishs in the neighborhood are wood, brick and stucco and some of the earlier renderings had a lot of glass, concrete and metal base. i do really like the way this is redesigned. although i do architecturally like the richer-looking base and other elements that were present in the project that was rejected six months ago. and i had asked project sponsor's architect that it may beble to to look at that and how that would look with the new project with its current massing from the project six months ago and certainly have the neighborhood and others
comment on which of the designs that they like better. the other thing i'm assuming is that we still have the very innovative bay concept. mr. birchel, i believe that is still the case. where unlike many buildings that we see built particularly the more contemporary ones where we have these appendages off the side of buildings that are decks that sort of look like something that doesn't belong on the building. mr. birchel's bays are combinations of bays and decks with the infold doors that allows it to become a deck at such time as you wish to have it open to the outdoors. the rest of the time it's a bay, and in both instances it looks perfectly appropriate for the building. so i think those are some of the things that i see. i am not opposed to letting this rest for a few more weeks. we do not have to take it up in
early january, but certainly i would like the continued dialogue between the comment and community and the developer. this is appropriate use and i see nothing wrong with a building that develop these 27 units, brings 27 new families that will add vitality to the neighborhood. i think that is a very valuable improvement and we have been done the road about the church and how expensive it would be to try to retrofit it. it doesn't economically seem to make a lot of sense. and this is a private project, too. this is not a city-owned project. this is not a project being done by an affordable non-profit. this is a private project and there is -- they are responsible to be receptive to the neighborhood and build something that is appropriate to the neighborhood and is supported by the neighborhood.
and protected light and air and other things, but they should have the ability to put the type of project that they wish to put there, and have that ability as along as it's not deleterious to the neighborhood. >> commissioner borden? >> this project has certainly come aways. it's ridiculous in my personal view that there weren't these kind of conversations before. at this point i don't think that we're ready to take up this project. i think that there is a lot of work to be done. the adjacent buildings points out a lot of problems and mr. schoolneck pointed out things are moving, but there are things to be done. i don't think you can necessarily arrive at a quick resolution after so much time and effort has been put insofar.
it's a shame that a lawsuit is what was required for the project sponsor to work the community. i think this seems to be heading in the right direction, but it's certainly not there. i think there is a lot more dialogue that needs to happen between the developer and the community. i don't think there is an urgent need for us to take this up in the immediate future. i recognize that the termination of this might be a different project, but it's fundamentally still a market-rate housing project of similar type and scope. so i can understand why people could feel that we should wait a year on this. more than anything, i just want to encourage the developer to continue to work with the community and to continue really the dialogue that maybe if this had happened in the first place, we would have been in a completely different circumstance. but i don't think that anyone
wants to pretend that we can erase all of the bad things, all the bad blood, all of the bad misgivings and all the things that the way the church is maintained. there is a lot of history and it can't be easily undone with a beautiful building, even if it were -- assuming it were a beautiful building. there were a lot of other things that need to be considered first and i think that we have to go through those processes. so you know, i am glad to see that there has been least significant movement from what had been in past, but i feel there is a ways to go. >> commissioner suguya? >> thank you. i just had to clarify something with the city attorney's office. i think it's been known and commissioner borden hinted at, there has been a process apart from this commission that is involved, that is revolving
around a lawsuit. and as part of that, there has been a process that has brought the developer and several different kinds of interests from the neighborhood together to try to resolve some of the issues that have come about because of the previous development proposals. and i think i would just like to echo what commissioner borden just said in that although that process involving a particular judge bringing the developer and the neighborhood together, i think is a separate process from ours. in the sense that although that process may have led to certain kinds of compromises and other things, i think we feel -- or
at least i feel anyway, that a continuing dialogue still should take place between the developer and the neighborhood. and i would hate to think that it takes a legal court to bring the two sides together. when, in fact, a lot of, i think, dialogue could have taken place between the developer, the church and the neighborhood quite apart from that because that is the kind of thing we were looking for originally. so i would echo commissioner borden's view, and encourage, i guess, or make it mandatory that any further community involvement in the project takes place ubs, but that is certainly something that some of us are looking for. >> commissioner moore.
>> both comments by commissioner suguya and commissioner wu are spot-on. it is something that none of us have experienced. however, the guidance given to us and the interpretation to us by the zoning administrator that this should follow the typical timeframes by which projects come back is what indeed i feel comfortable supporting because that is by the rules that we work and that is what the public is expecting. i would suggest that it is indeed changed and movement on the project. however, until the process has been fully worked out with the neighborhood regarding all of the issues that were briefly touched on by the people
presenting, it's time to do it right this time. as we always said, every project has neighborhood support and the department's guidance has indeed created that and we're agreeing with it, then the project should hopefully be on successful way for approval. >> commissioner suguya, do you have another comment? >> i did. to the zoning administrator, interpretation of the planning code language that allows the project to come back can you describe to the commission if there is criteria to describe "substantial change?" section 306.5 does not give any
criteria. it just says, "the same project or substantially the same." those cannot come back within one year and reviewing the project and also in reviewing the commissioners' comments on this, i felt it was very clear direction to the project sponsor regarding the demassing and height of the building, i felt that was a substantial change. again it's not any determination on the project itself or the merits of the project, but simply allows it to come back before you for your decision. and certainly, if you did take an action to disapprove that and gave very clear guidance why you were disapproving that. >> is that determination solely within your power? >> it's within planning code section 306.5 and planning code section 307 gives the zoning administrator the authority to interpret and enforce the planning code. so i am
interpreting and enforcing the planning code as authorized under the planning code itself. >> thank you. >> commissioner antonini? >> along those lines i remember when the earlier project was denied, i was working with project sponsor and the neighbors as to a design with a floor less. fortunately that was coming forward the 11th hour and many commissioners said we wish we would have seen that weeks ago. so that reinforces the fact that we have something that we're moving forward on this project. along those lines on similar projects that are in the general vicinity, the commission worked very hard with a different developer on the project that is now almost completed at polk and pacific; which is going to be, i think, a very attractive project, that went through some modification
and also at sutter and van ness, under construction and nearing complete completion. i remember commissioner moore in particular had a lot of input on the design changes and the massing that makes a stronger cornice at a particular floor and makes it more sympathetic to the historic buildings that run along van ness there. in terms of cornices, the other thing and this is just a subtlety, but i looked at the before-and-after and i think a little heavier and richer looking cornice on the new design would keep it looking with the rest of the neighborhood. again, these are very easy things to do and they are not the essence of what we're working with here. but i think we're certainly moving forwards what i think will be a very fine project when hopefully it is approve >> commissioner moore? >> i just wanted to make sure that since we do not have any action items that all we can do
is comment. which is guided by first the proper interpretation by the department should be guiding comments. i don't think we should be sitting today designing architecture on something that is a progress report. you basically call it "informational." and i take it as an informational item. i am positive about the movement, but i don't feel that any of us should be in any position to comment on the specifics of design. at the core of all of this and will be the response to those concerns which are neighborhood concerns. we're not approving architecture. we're approving basically a project which starts with a change of land use. we're going from public to private. from public to residential. so i think we need to kind of stay on target relative to what messages we are potentially communicating here today.
>> commissioner antonini? >> but to that end, most of what was pointed out as things under discussion by the neighborhood were the massing and the size of the building, and to some degree the architectural appearance of the building, and so i think that certainly is useful to use our time well and to kind of weigh in on what is being presented to us. not that we're talking about any kind of approval process at this time. we're just sort of trying to indicate our feelings and outreach to the neighborhood. and to the project sponsor to continue to work together. and i don't believe this was -- i don't think this is going public to private. this was a privately-owned, owned by a church and i consider that to be a private entity and it continues to be private. so i don't feel that it's moving in that direction. >> next item, please.
>> commissioners, that will place you under "general comment period" not to exceed 15 minutes. at this time members of public will address those items within the subject matter of the commission except for agenda items. with respect to agenda items, your opportunity will be when the item is reached. each member of the public can address the commission for up to 3 minutes. >> opening up for 3 minutes >> kevin said it would still be all right to talk about 1360 larkin. i think the informational hearing was appreciated. >> excuse me, 1601 was an agendized item and you did provide your public comment. >> kevin told you would be taking that in this? >> it's non-agendized items. >> thank you.